This post is brought to you by optical illusions.
Let's start with the basics which most of us know.
Dark colours slim you (think little black dress)
Light colours fatten (code for light colours attract attention)
Then the next one your mother probably didnt tell you.
Stripes dont necessarily fatten.
Whether they fatten depends on their colour, their width, their placement & their direction.
ILLUSION #1: All over stripes
All over stripes can be surprisingly flattering for everyone. This is because the overall pattern causes the eye to move up & down rather than any stripe causing east-west eye movement.
More so if there is a more dominant positive colour - here it's black. This is code for dark colours slim.
All over stripes with more negative (the lighter colour) space can still flatter, but not as much.
ILLUSION #2: Half body stripes
Half body stripes can be dangerous.
If you wear the stripes on half your body, instead of full length, there will be a fattening effect because there is less of a vertical line for the eye to move & the eye gets jolted/interrupted when the stripes finish & the other colour/pattern commences.
Also its safe to say that the wider the stripes the more likely they are to fatten.
Stripes can take many forms in addition to the pattern on a fabric. ANYTHING which creates east-west eye movement is effectively a horizontal stripe.
ILLUSION #3: Coloured (or ombre) tiers
Horizontal tiers on a top (or a peasant skirt) are fattening. Not flattering.
ILLUSION #4: Border prints
A horizontal border print will fatten the area that it sits over.
So if your hips are big, I wouldnt suggest this peasant top.
ILLUSION #5: Ruching
Horizontal gathers create east-west eye movement. If you have big hips, this is not the top for you.
A border with a horizontal line is more fattening than a border with a handkerchief hem.
|In this photo, even the ribbing on the neckline can create |
east-west eye movement as the scoop shape is quite deep.
If you want extra slim, go for a vee neck.
|Hanky hem - creates vertical eye movement (amongst the horizontal) |
and is less fattening than a horizontal hem.
Not sure in what direction the stripes are working?
Do the blink test.
Face the garment (or mirror).
Close your eyes and clear your mind for 5 seconds.
Then open your eyes.
The first place your eye travels, will be what is noticed first by anyone else.
ILLUSION #7: Asymmetry slims
Asymmetrical details are great for interrupting horizontal lines.
|The way the top is folded under at the hem is terrific for |
breaking up the east-west eye movement created by the hem.
TIP: Asymmetry works beautifully when half tucking tops & shirts. See next two photos.
ILLUSION #8: Side vertical stripes
Even a vertical pattern on each side of the body can create
a sufficiently wide empty space between to cause the eye to move east-west. Not what we want unless we are super skinny. See next photo.
In the next photo, the eye rests on the tummy where the white area expands.
The black sides dont help to slim anything in this case.
In contrast, the dark side stripes in Stella McCartney's Octavia dress work miracles in the slimming department.
Notice how the waist area is minimised with more indenting than the rest of the dress? Slimming gold.
ILLUSION #9: Solo stripes
If the stripes are alone in a sea of plain fabric, the impact can be severe even if the width is small. Why? Because one stripe on a solid stands out far more than any stripe in a continuous pattern.
Blue top A creates vertical eye movement with the button placket. Then the eyes rest on the pockets/collar.
Pink top B is horribly east-west with that organza insert across the hip.
Just for completeness, here is a top which is one of the best shapes for apples. Yes it has a vertical diamond pattern, but the genius here is that the "waist" band sits under the bust - which is the narrowest part of the body of an apple. This emphasis is super flattering. It also has a hanky hem at the sides for extra flattery (ie: the hanky shape breaks up the horizontal line of a straight hem). Everything works so well, that you dont even notice the straight line created by the black camisole. Its a great design. Basic, yes but clever.
ILLUSION #9: Diagonal stripes
Diagonal stripes are often slimming simply because they cause the eye to move across the body. Buy not resting on a particular body part, it increases the chances that the eye wont rest on the wrong part.
But diagonals can be tricky too.
In this case, the eye movement is as per the pink arrow.
Most people's vision goes from left to right. But the stripes drag the eye downward, in the south west direction. I wouldnt want the eye going straight to my hips. Would you?
In the next picture, the print acts as a stripe. The eye follows the print in a south easterly direction. All it manages to do is fatten the tummy area.
ILLUSION #10: Navy can fatten
Finally, an example of where dark colours dont detract. In the following photo, the navy block with a horizontal waist & almost a horizontal hem jumps out from the yellow. It makes the hips look massive & makes them the first thing you notice. Flattering? Not too bad on our size 8 model. On a real girl, no way.
The moral here is even the rules of thumb wont always be 100% certain. The ultimate test of what works is the way you have put it together and the mirror is your best. Either that or post a photo on the Style into Action page & feedback.